What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

What Does it Cost to Attend The University of California–San Diego?

Located in beautiful California, the University of California–San Diego attracts some of the brightest students in the nation. As part of the highly esteemed University of California system, UCSD is a top choice for many ambitious and driven students.


As a public school, you may be thinking that UCSD is more affordable than attending a private school, but it’s important to review the actual factors that contribute to the cost of an education rather than make sweeping generalizations. We’re going to give you everything you need to know to see if you can make your student’s college dreams a reality.


Why College Costs are Highly Variable


When you’re looking at the cost of an education for any school, you need to keep in mind that the cost to your family may vary from the numbers you see floating around on the internet (even the numbers on the school’s own website!). This is because the price varies based on factors like in-state vs. out-of-state, and how much financial aid your student can expect to receive.


Luckily, very few students pay “full price” to attend a school. By considering how factors like your household income, merit funding, and other ways to save, you can estimate what your net cost will be to your family.


The main factors you’ll need to determine your net cost are:


  • Government aid at the federal, state, and sometimes local level
  • Institutional aid
  • Private scholarships.


Let’s break down how each of these might reduce your net cost specifically for UCSD.


The University of California–San Diego’s List Price


Although we call it the list price, the term that most schools use is “cost of attendance.” This is what you’ll want to search for if you’re trying to get an idea of the total cost of an education at that school; it includes factors like tuition, room, board, and other miscellaneous costs of living.


Although most families don’t pay the list price, it’s a helpful starting point before we look at the net cost you could expect to pay. As a public school, UCSD is cheaper for in-state students or California residents: for the 2016-2017 year, the estimated cost of attendance for in-state was $32,239; the cost of attendance for out-of-state students was $58,921.


Who normally pays the list price? Generally speaking, students from high-income families, or households with income that exceeds $175,000, can expect to pay the full list price. However, if high-income students qualify for merit funding, by being in the top 30% of students, they may also be able to reduce their net cost.


What is the Price with Financial Aid?


These averages include both merit-based and need-based aid from government agencies and the institution. In-state students with financial aid had an average net cost of $27,592, whereas out-of-state students had an average net cost of $54,274. We hope that this begins to put you at ease, since we haven’t even talked about how private scholarships can help reduce this net cost even further.


Cost Based on Household Income


The greater your family’s financial need, the more need-based aid your student will qualify for, which will reduce the net cost to your family. To give you an idea, these are the average net prices for a student based on household income:


Family Income Average Net Price
$0-$30,000 $8,585
$30,001-$48,000 $9,541
$48,001-$75,000 $13,367
$75,001-$110,000 $20,301
Over $110,000 $27,866


What is the Merit Aid Net Price? What is the Average Net Price for Students Without Need?


Many institutions offer merit aid to students who have remarkable accomplishments, either academically or personally. Oftentimes, this merit aid is offered on a need-blind basis, meaning that your household income doesn’t factor into whether or not your student will receive this aid. Of accepted students without need, about 3.4% receive merit aid at UCSD, and the average merit aid award was $404.


If your household income is at or above $175,000 and your student receives a merit award, you can expect your net cost to reduce slightly. For in-state students, the net cost to your family would be around $31,835; for out-of-state students the net cost would be $58,517.


Although it may not be much, every little bit helps make college more affordable.

Student Loans and Debt


Even with some financial aid, students need to make up the remaining cost of their education, and loans help students do that. At UCSD, a little more than half of the students have a loan—56% to be exact. The average size of the federal student loan per student was $2,742, but please note that some students take out private loans, or even have parents who take out loans on their behalf.




No doubt you’re wondering if UCSD is worth the financial investment you’d be making if your student ultimately attends this school. At UCSD, about 84% of students graduate within six years, and the average salary of a UCSD graduate after ten years is $59,900. Of course, these outcomes are not guaranteed for your individual student, but it should put you at ease knowing that the learning environment and resources UCSD provides allow students to be successful.


Local Cost of Living Considerations


Aside from the cost of attendance, it’s important to consider how costly it might be to live in San Diego, especially for out-of-state students who already have a higher cost of attendance. San Diego’s cost-of-living index is 177.5, meaning that it’s 77.5% higher than the national average.


Students may choose to live on-campus or off-campus (they can even stay with their parents if they live in or near San Diego). Housing is the biggest factor that makes San Diego’s cost of living index higher than the national average. To give you an idea, here are the average rents for apartments:


  • 1 bedroom: $1,621
  • 2 bedroom: $2,107
  • 3 bedroom: $3,019


One common way that students can help reduce the net cost of their education to their family is by having a part-time job. According to the Economic Policy Institute, California’s minimum wage is $12.00 an hour, although San Diego sometimes sets a minimum wage slightly higher than the state standard. While many part-time jobs that students typically hold are probably close to or slightly higher than minimum wage, the average hourly wage in San Diego is $27.12.


Other Ways to Save


Aside from encouraging your student to find a job, you may be wondering how else you can reduce your net cost. After all, even most part-time jobs won’t be able to cover the cost of an education at any school, and if you’re closer to paying the list price, it’s unlikely that your student can cover all of their costs.


One of the best ways is to encourage your student to seek out scholarships that are based on merit, rather than need. Unlike loans, scholarships don’t have to be paid back, and can ease both you and your student’s stress about finances. UCSD has scholarships for incoming freshmen, current undergraduate students, and even for specific semesters or for study abroad. Check out their scholarships page to see what your student may qualify for.


Aside from institutional scholarships, there may be private scholarships awarded by corporations and nonprofit organizations. You may even want to ask your employer if there are any scholarships specifically for the children of employees.


If your student will be out-of-state, then you may want to encourage your student to apply for residency after their freshman year of college. Once they become a resident, they can keep their previous financial aid awards (the amounts are usually adjusted based on household need) while now paying for the in-state cost of attendance. You and your student should explore this option thoroughly using UCSD’s website and speaking with a financial aid officer.


Wrapping it Up


There are plenty of things that you and your students can do to make their college dreams more affordable. By finding ways to save and reduce your net cost through scholarships and financial aid, your student can be a thriving UCSD graduate in no time.


As part of our College Applications Program, our Finances tool shows students the ROI of different schools and majors and help students identify scholarships to apply for. On average, our students earn about $83,000 in scholarships, which helps make their academic dreams a reality. Find out if working with our Financial Aid Tools is right for your family!


For more information about the University of CaliforniaSan Diego and financial aid, check out these posts:


UC San Diego Acceptance Rate: What Does it Take to Get In?

Parents: 12 Must-Know College Financial Aid Terms

FAFSA, CSS Profile, IDOC, Oh My: A Guide to Financial Aid

Everything You Need to Know About the Cal Grant


Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

Short Bio
Gianna Cifredo is a graduate of the University of Central Florida, where she majored in Philosophy. She has six years of higher education and test prep experience, and now works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida and is a proud cat mom.